Operational guidance on compulsory vaccination in care updated

Last week the Department of Health and Social Care updated its operational guidance on COVID vaccination in care home settings to reflect the launch of the new medical exemption scheme and the temporary self-certified medical exemption scheme.

The updated guidance states that individuals who work or volunteer in a care home can self-certify that they’re medically exempt until 24 December 2021. However, from 25 December they will have to use the NHS COVID Pass in the same way that people who are fully vaccinated use it. The pass itself will look the same for people who are vaccinated and people who are medically exempt.

It’s important for care businesses to understand whether individuals are medically exempt as the guidance states that they should carry out a risk assessment for those individuals to reduce the risk of transmission. The guidance, therefore, advises that individuals who work or volunteer in a care home should use the letter they receive confirming their medical exemption status has been granted to evidence medical exemption rather than the COVID Pass itself.

Short-term medical exemptions and pregnancy

Short-term medical exemptions from vaccination are available for those with short-term medical conditions. Pregnant women can choose to take up this option and can either apply under the formal medical exemption scheme (and self-certify pending receipt of exemption confirmation) or alternatively they can use their MAT B1 form. In either case, their exemption status will expire 16 weeks post-partum.

Individuals vaccinated outside the UK

The guidance confirms that the government is still considering how to recognise people as vaccinated if they have been vaccinated outside the UK. In the meantime, these individuals can self-certify as medically exempt. Self-certification on the grounds of overseas vaccination will continue for this group until further notice and will not expire on 24 December 2021.

Next steps for care businesses

It’s now important that care businesses contact anyone who has self-certified as medically exempt from vaccination to make them aware that this exemption status will expire on 24 December 2021 and it’s essential that they now apply for exemption under the permanent scheme. This will involve:

  1. The individual telephoning the NHS COVID Pass service on 119 and asking for an NHS COVID Pass medical exemption application form (they’re not available from GPs). During the call they will be asked to provide:
    • their name
    • their date of birth
    • their NHS number (if they know it)
    • the name of their GP and/or specialist clinician
  2. They should return their application form to the GP or relevant clinician stated on the form and it will be clinically reviewed by their doctor, specialist or midwife.
  3. They’ll receive the results of the application by post two to three weeks after applying.
  4. The clinical decision on the medical exemption application is final and there is no right of appeal.

To help you ensure that you’ve communicated with your employees exactly what the next steps are when it comes to proving their exempt status, we’ve created a template letter informing those who have self-certified as medically exempt about the new scheme and what they should do next. The template can be found in here in Atlas.

And remember, as a Citation client, you can speak to our experts 24/7 for support, advice and guidance on implementing compulsory vaccinations in your business, as well as managing those that are medically exempt. Just give our advice line a call on 0345 844 4848 or email hradvice@citation.co.uk.

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